Pantser Vs Plotter
SUMMER SUMMER SUMMERTIME
Relax, man, it’s summer. If you can find some time to breathe and get some sun, good for you. I’ve got two young kids and a third on the way. On top of that (which is, of course, the biggest thing anyone can ever do with their lives — raising kids I mean, not just having them), I’m trying my best to maintain a creative writing presence in the world. The only way to function on all levels is to literally create more hours in the day.
So get up early and go to bed late. Easier said than done, right? I do manage to do it here and there. It’s not daily but it should be. I’m trying to get into an early riser rhythm. I’ve probably mentioned this before. If you can pull yourself out of bed and get in front of the computer before 5:00 a.m., you’ve got at least an hour or two (depending on your lifestyle) to blast away at those keys. Coffee helps, of course, that’s an understatement. I’m sure I don’t have to sell the virtues of caffeine to any fellow writer who stumbles upon these words. RA TA TA TA! Am I right?
But getting up before dawn or going to sleep after the rest of the world isn’t enough. You have to actually do the work. And here’s where it gets sticky and tricky. I have a terrible habit of making it to the keyboard with plenty of time and then killing it all away by either a) putzing around on the internets or b) doing the writing but having it fall flat because there was no plotting involved.
Guys! Girls! Hear me! Join me! We need to start (or continue) plotting our stories. It might be the most important thing! The plot. Duh. I’ve been a pantser most of my life and trust me when I say: it does not work. I mean, it can. But it’s problematic, to say the least. It did work for me in the past. But do you know how much time was wasted crushing diamonds out of coal?
Do diamonds come from coal? I think Superman once squeezed a piece of coal and plucked out a diamond for Lois Lane. Is that what he’s talking about? He should really fact check it.
No! I will not! If this was a book, yes of course I would fact check where diamonds come from. But as I’ve said, I don’t have time for anything! Blogging is whimsical and free, and well, it’s better just to keep moving through it so I can go back to my WIP (work in progress).
Where was I?
Oh yeah, be a plotter. Writing by the seat of your pants only gets you stuck in Superman Land.
I actually started my new book with a pantser mindset and have since circled around and back to the start a few times and plotted some storyline out. It’s good. It’s better than it would have been the other way. I think it will be anyway. But guess what? That’s a lot of precious, wasted time I’ll never get back. I had to delete an obnoxious amount of words that went nowhere. Nobody wants to have to do that.
How To Be a Plotter
Step 1) Visit your local graveyard. Find the head gravemaster and say, “Gravemaster, sir! I require a plot!”
Step 2) I guess die and lie in your plot for the rest of Earth time?
Oh boy. That went south fast.
OK, here’s the easiest way to do it. You’re writing a story. You’ve got the main hook and the protagonist in your head. Right? Because those two things are essential. If you don’t have them, go find them. Then come back. Got it? Great.
Your main idea should have at least three major beats. Your protagonist should grow into something. How does he/she/it get there? There is plot point 1, plot point 2, and plot point 3. Follow the bouncing story from here to there to there. Now fill in the blanks. What are those blanks? Chapters!
How many chapters would you like to include in each Part? They don’t have to be uniform but they also don’t not have to be uniform. The important thing is to know where the chapter begins and how it ends. Everything in-between will fill itself in. Like magic.
And that’s it! That’s all you need to know to be a plotter! Aren’t you glad you read this?
Is your novel finished now? That was easy, wasn’t it? OK, please be sure to send me 50 percent of all royalties.
I prefer to be paid in kugerrands. Because Lethal Weapon 2 was an awesome movie.
Have we forgiven Mel yet? No? Ok.
I’m getting too old for this ****.